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India enters elite genome club

Last updated: 09 December, 2009
New Delhi: 1:50 IST

A 52-year-old man from Jharkhand has become the first Indian, whose entire genome has been mapped, giving vital clues to scientists on the susceptibility of Indians to ailments such as cancer and heart disease.

The sequencing marks India’s entry into a select club of five nations, which have completed the sequencing of the entire genetic map of a human being. The other members are the US, China, Canada, South Korea and the UK.

The accomplishment by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), however, comes nine-and-a-half years after human genome was first mapped by a consortium of US and UK scientists.

The human genome project (HGP) has huge commercial potential, thanks to its use to develop blockbuster drugs and vaccines. The allurement led to an acrimonious competition between public and private-funded institutions, led by Francis Collins and Craig Venter, respectively. They carried out the first HGP following two different streams.

The olive branch was finally offered from the White House and 10 Downing Street. The initial results were announced on June 26, 2000, by the then US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after 85 per cent of the sequencing was completed.

The Indian human genome achievements were announced in the Lok Sabha by Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday.

The sequencing will open new vistas for low-cost affordable healthcare as well as predictive personalised medicine in future.

Genetic differences

The CSIR will carry out 10 Indian human genome sequencing in north and central India to better understand the minute genetic differences between Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Indians.

Such small genetic variations make specific groups susceptible to certain diseases. Indians, for instance, are known to be vulnerable to heart diseases, which may be due to genetic reasons. It can also lead to low-cost healthcare, provided scientists understand how each individual responds to the self-same medicine.

“When the human genome project began in 2003, India missed the bus because of resource constraints. We have now bridged the gap,” Chavan said.
The human genome project had a budget of $ 3.5 billion.

Better healthcare

* Human genome was first mapped by a consortium of US and UK scientists nGenome sequencing will open new vistas for low-cost affordable healthcare

*HGP has huge commercial potential due to its use to develop blockbuster drugs

* CSIR to carry out 10 human genome sequencing in north and central India

* Small genetic variations make specific groups susceptible to certain diseases

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